Thin Lines

Yesterday, Greenville laid to rest one of their Police Officers shot in the line of duty. Thousands have gathered to pay their respects and many more mourn with broken hearts that may never be seen or felt. Tears that have been wiped from cheeks as brave men and women put on their uniforms to step out and serve their communities without hesitation. They know the risks. They know the dangers. Yet, they serve.

We hear about the Thin Blue Line that makes up our police force, that binds officers into a brotherhood of service. Some people fear it, others respect it, and some think it makes them mighty above men. But they are merely men and women like you and me who have stepped up to serve and protect. They are brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, sons and daughters of our cities, of our communities.

And we have seen them grieve. So far this year, 26 officers have died in service to their communities.

But they are not the only ones who shed tears. They are not the only ones who have felt the pain. 14 firefighters and three emergency medical personnel have also died in the line of duty this year.

These are all men and women who serve our communities. Volunteers and professionals alike. We all know the Thin Blue Line, but they are the Red and White Lines that are there when we need them the most. And they were there when others have fallen.

We don’t see the pain that they suffer when they serve one another. They are different stands made out of the same cord, and together they hold back the darkness of the world that would have us consumed by fear.

We never hear about the EMT’s struggle as they refuse to stop fighting for life as they speed off into the dark, a race against death. Do they not suffer from the pain of witnessing such a tragedy?  What about the Firefighter who watches everything that made up a home go up in smoke? Or when they arrive on the scene of a multi-vehicle accident. The trauma they face cannot be seen physically present, but carried on their souls each and every day.

And if these Thin Lines of Blue, Red and White make up the cords that serve and protect our communities, there is another that binds them. A not-so-silent witness that is hidden from the view of the public. A voice on the other end of the line that you never see, but they are out there listening, guiding, directing. What have they not witnessed or experienced as they hold the stands together.

The Thin Gold Line that is the family of Dispatchers. The dedicated call takers who hear every cry for help and ever-present radio operators who keep track of all the moving pieces, directing them into the darkness. They are the voices in the night reminding us that hope is on the way.

Do they not feel the pain of loss when one of their brothers or sisters falls? Do they not question every decision they made, every word spoken, second guessing themselves? They may be hidden behind the mike and headset, but the wounds can still cut. They hear everything. Feel every cry for help. And sometimes they question the best that they could do.

I am part of this family. I am proud to serve behind the scenes, hidden from view, but still supporting the Thin Lines that are there for our community.

You see, it wasn’t just the Thin Blue Line that laid a brother to rest yesterday. It was the entire Emergency Services family that felt the cut of loss. It was the community that makes up Greenville that lost one of its own. A brother. A father. Husband.  Friend. Protector. Servant.


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